Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – The 10th Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie – Directed by James Gunn – Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Glenn Close, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Alex Denisof, Ophelia Lovibond, Peter Serafinowicz, Gregg Henry, Laura Haddock, Alex Denisof, Josh Brolin, Lloyd Kaufman, Nathan Fillion, Rob Zombie, Seth Green, and Stan Lee.
Welcome to a series of specific, character-based reactions to the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. You can read the review of the GUARDIANS movie here, and you can read all of my superhero movie reviews (and the specific character reactions to Marvel’s The Avengers) right here. One note – I have watched the movie twice but we’re working on a week since I’ve seen it last so it is entirely possible (but completely unintentional) that I might get a quote or two wrong. If I do, I can only apologize and ask that you feel free to correct me. Thanks.
“Do you trust him?” – Nova Prime to Corpsman Rhomann Dey
Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
Similar to Korath in function if not form, Nova Prime (Glenn Close) is a character designed to make other characters look better, and to make sure we understand that all of these threats are serious. The difference is that Nova Prime makes the other characters look better by decree, whereas Korath made them look better by getting his own ass handed to him.
First, she’s here to enforce the fact that Ronan is a bad-ass who refuses to acknowledge the just-signed treaty between the Kree and Xandarians. “He’s killing women and children,” she implores a Kree political figure, who refuses to do anything about it. It’s not really a scene we absolutely need, though I suppose it’s important for Marvel to draw a distinction between the average Kree political establishment (who are interested enough in peace to sign a treaty) and Ronan (the fanatical Kree who wants to commit genocide).
The Kree politician rebuffs Nova Prime’s call for assistance. All she really wants is for them to release a statement condemning Ronan, but the Kree aren’t interested in doing even that. I wonder how much time the filmmakers spent trying to navigate these waters – they need to make a differentiation between the Kree government and Ronan, they need to make Ronan look like a legit threat, they need to make the Nova Corps look good but not so good they don’t need help with Ronan from both the Guardians and the Ravagers, they need to build in a reason for the Kree to not get involved in stopping Ronan, and they need to give Glenn Close some more lines to say.
All of it is appreciated, but I wonder if it’s needed.
On one of the Classic Doctor Who DVDs, there’s an interview with a writer (I forget which one) who says that when he would write he would obsess over the plot holes but then when the episodes aired, he learned that if fans liked an episode, they inevitably didn’t care about the plot holes. I’m not sure any of these things we gain from this scene actually are covering up plot holes, and it’s such a brief scene that it’s as much there to let people in the audience catch their breath as much as anything else.
When Ronan attacks Xandar, Nova Prime is there to give a command presence during the fight. Glenn Close clearly owns whatever room she’s in, and the film can let chaos swirl around her because she presents Nova Prime as such a steady rock. So she stands at a big, central table that projects a realtime map of the battle and the city as the Nova Corps moves with purpose around her. (Though I did chuckle a bit at the woman standing over her shoulder who seemed to be taking notes without any real purpose; was she supposed to be the Nova Corps stenographer? I desperately wanted to see the screen of her tablet to find out she was playing Galaga.)
There has been a bunch of criticism leveled at superhero films (mostly Man of Steel) for their callous disregard for the safety of the public. AVENGERS made a point to have Captain America and Widow concentrate on keeping the public safe as the heavy hitters took on Loki and the Chitauri, and here, Nova Prime is every bit as interested in evacuating the city as she is mounting a defense of it. There are multiple scenes of the public being placed in danger and the Guardians and Ravagers protecting them. That they manage to evacuate the city before The Dark Aster crashes tells us that Xandar has a good evac plan, that Xandarians follow said plan, that the Nova Corps ability to know this is frightfully good (police state?), and that Nova Prime is also stretching the truth a bit, given that when The Dark Aster does crash down, we see a handful of Xandarians hanging around outside of it to see what’s what.
Now, the ship does come down outside of the downtown area and clearly some time has passed between the crash and when the Guardians pull themselves awake, but at least the film is paying more than lip service to the idea of public safety.
When Corpsman Dey comes to Nova Prime to tell her about the phone call he’s received from Peter Quill, she trusts his judgment that Quill can be trusted.
Not that she has much choice, given the size of Ronan’s ship and fleet. It’s not like she could have said no to either his help or the Ravagers (and it bears wondering if the Ravagers also had their criminal records expunged), but Quill’s advance warning did allow Nova Prime to get many more people to safety, and, one assumes, gather more Nova Corps to their location to aid in the defense of the planet.
A key difference between Nova Prime and Korath is that the former is clearly made to look important and stand on her own, even though she does not have any real defining moment. She’s cool and collected under fire, seeking diplomacy first but not afraid to resort to violence or put her trust in a group of criminals when needed. She makes the tough call to have the Nova Corps ships bond together to form a large net, even though she has to know it is highly unlikely to be successful.
Through it all, Glenn Close manages to make Nova Prime feel like a real character, even if it’s not one drawn broadly or deeply. Rather, I get the sense that she gets involved only because this is important, and the filmmakers make a smart decision to keep us mostly at arm’s length from her. It’s not Nova Prime who gets the phone call from Peter, after all, or Nova Prime who sacrifices herself, but it is Nova Prime who agrees to trust Peter and calls upon the Corps to do their duty, even if that duty might mean this is the last day they see.
The Complete Box of GUARDIANS Reactions
1. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: Ain’t No Thing Like Me Except Me
2. GOTG: The YONDU Reaction
3. GOTG: The NEBULA Reaction
4. GOTG: The KORATH Reaction
5. GOTG: The GROOT Reaction
6. GOTG: The CORPSMAN DEY Reaction
7. GOTG: The NOVA PRIME Reaction
8. GOTG: The RONAN Reaction
9. GOTG: The DRAX Reaction
10. GOTG: The COLLECTOR Reaction
11. GOTG: The GAMORA Reaction
12. GOTG: The STAR-LORD Reaction
13. GOTG: The ROCKET Reaction